Sphero Riding Strandbeest Is A Robot With An Exoskeleton
[Theo Jansen] makes awesome things called Strandbeests; wind-driven automatons that roam beaches and art galleries. It has long been one of our favorite mechanisms. Newer, but also a favorite is the Sphero smartphone controlled orb. The combination of the two is epic!
You may remember seeing Sphero used to create a tiny BB8 replica. Inside the orb is a tiny robot capable of rolling itself hamster-wheel-style in any direction. It’s a rather powerful bot and that makes Sphero fast. The high RPM is what makes this hack possible. Sphero spins rapidly while perched on some rollerblade wheels. Gearing converts this …read more
Raspberry Pi Halt and Catch… Well, Halt
As far back as we can remember, there have always been hacks, exploits, and just curiosity about undocumented CPU instructions. The Z80 had them. Even the HP41C calculator had some undocumented codes. The HCF (Halt and Catch Fire) instruction was apocryphal, but we always heard the old video controller chips could be coaxed into blowing up certain monitors. You don’t hear too much about things like that lately, perhaps because fewer people are working in assembly language.
[Sergi Àlvarez i Capilla] not only works in assembly language, he was writing an ARM assembler when he noticed something funny. Instructions are …read more
Two New FPGA Families, Designed in China
The two largest manufacturers of FPGAs are, by far, Altera and Xilinx. They control over 80% of the market share, with Lattice and others picking up the tail end. The impact of this can be seen in EE labs and alibaba; nearly every FPGA dev board, every instructional, and every bit of coursework is based on Altera or Xilinx chips.
There’s a new contender from the east. Gowin Semiconductor has released two lines of FPGAs (Google translate) in just under two years. That’s incredibly fast for a company that appears to be gearing up to take on the Altera and …read more
Robots Are Coming For Our Jobs. Just Not All of Them.
There is a lot to be said for replacing certain kinds of jobs with robots. Most people would agree that replacing physical human labor with automation is a good thing. It’s especially good to automate the dangerous kinds of labor like some facets of factory work. What about automation in fields that require more mental labor, where physical strain isn’t the concern? Is replacing humans really the best course of action? A year ago, a video called Humans Need Not Apply set forth an explanation of how robots will inevitably replace us. But that narrative is a tough sell.
Whether …read more
Hilarious DARPA Robots Falling Video
If you’re worried about Skynet, take a quick gander at the outtakes reel (YouTube, inlined below the break) from the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) and you’ll feel a lot better. The IEEE Spectrum reporters assigned to the DRC took a break from their otherwise serious coverage and made this funny compilation of all the multi-million dollar robotic fails to go along with this article.
It’s hard not to empathize with the robots, and we’ll admit that we winced a little bit with the first couple falls. (But after three or four, started breaking out in maniacal laughter.) …read more